Lots of talk, little information, no knowledge from crop reports

Soybean harvest
Farm and Dairy file photo.

Sometimes there is a lot known about the grain crops, and observers seem to agree about everything. That creates a market that is dull and predictable.

Sometimes there is lots of talk, but not so much real information. That is where we seem to be this year.

It is now the end of August, and anyone who is very positive about their estimates for corn and soybean crop size should be suspected. They have an ego problem or are politicians, I mean, liars.

There is no real knowledge out there, just questionable opinions.

The facts

This week, for actual information, we have real field surveys from Pro Farmer, compared to the USDA reports of Aug. 12.

Pro Farmer just finished their crop tour, and their numbers are widely respected. They are based on actual observation of fields, mixed with actual row counts of corn and pod counts of soybeans.

Their record is clear, and they provide a specific range of yields as a result.

The numbers

Looking at Pro Farmer’s numbers, and at the USDA and NASS numbers we can try to make some conclusions.

Pro Farmer puts the Ohio crop at 150 bpa. This compares to the 160 bpa of the USDA and the 187 of last year. The 150 may be real, but harvested acres is really suspect, and the real mystery number for most of the country.

USDA has actually raised its yield estimate, from the 166 bpa of a couple of reports to the current 169.5.

This was the number that contributed to the market falling out of bed the last couple of months. Pro Farmer puts the yield at 163.3.

Frankly, I am hard-pressed to put the yield that high, but mine is a gut feeling. I look at the occasional field that is still tasseling and worry about the rest of the summer.

It should be noted that Pro Farmer has a trend of underestimating yields slightly.

It should also be noted that both the USDA and the Pro Farmer numbers assume that the crop all grows to maturity. That is a real problem, since we are still late with maturity, and the long-term forecasts predict lower than normal temperatures.

The beans

I have heard remarks from the Western Corn Belt about 100-day corn planted the first week of June that cannot possibly have enough heat units to get to black layer. That brings us to soybeans.

This is August, and anything can happen in August. Predicting yields before the first of September is hard any year. It becomes harder with late beans and pod counts that counts pods that could have two, three or four beans, or be flat when the first frost hits.

Pro Farmer put the soybean crops at 3.497 billion bus. They actually give a range of 47 to 45.2 bpa. That is five bushels below the USDA estimate, and also assumes they will be mature at first frost.

They give Ohio a 39 bpa yield, versus the USDA estimate of 48 and last year’s 58. That seems high when you look at a good field near me that has never grown up after being planted in June, and still shows row.

It is very high considering all the fields I see that are just so much shorter than normal.

The weather

We are cool this August, and that is good for timely beans that are setting pods. It is bad for beans that are late and need heat to catch up.

Add to the uncertainty the fact that fall is in the air. The last week has seemed like September. The trees have lost the dark green, and some species are getting a little yellow.

I wonder if trees go by growing degree days, also. They got sunshine between showers when farmers could not plant. They are ready to finish off the abscission layer, long before we want to see a black layer in our corn this year!


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